Cross-border live broadcast e-commerce: China’s new force in foreign trade (global hot spot)

  Reporter Peng Xunwen

  Data recently released by China's Ministry of Commerce shows that in 2023, China's cross-border e-commerce imports and exports will reach 2.38 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 15.6%.

Among them, exports were 1.83 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 19.6%.

This data reveals some new changes in China's foreign trade.

Among them, digital foreign trade methods such as cross-border live streaming are becoming an important way for some foreign trade companies to obtain orders and promote brands to "go overseas."

Industry insiders believe that the vigorous development of new foreign trade formats such as cross-border live streaming and delivery of goods is of positive significance in promoting the stable and high-quality development of China's foreign trade.

  Foreign trade companies explore cross-border live streaming

  "It took us two months to get more than 9,000 inquiries from overseas buyers relying on live broadcast." Speaking of this achievement, Wu Xinhe, marketing director of Shenzhen Maiwei Times Technology Co., Ltd. in Guangdong Province, is still excited today.

  Wu Xinhe's company specializes in children's technology products such as smart water cups, integrating design, development, production and sales. The overseas customer markets are mainly in Europe, North America and South America.

During the Spring Festival last year, her company decided to conduct cross-border live broadcasts on Alibaba International Station.

In order to quickly capture the interests of overseas merchants, she and the live broadcast team started with product selection and stocking, and worked hard on product selling points, live broadcast room decoration, and target customer group selection.

Since other businesses were still on holiday at the time, Wu Xinhe's live broadcast room had an average of more than 1,000 viewers per game.

Since the viewers are all professional buyers, this number is gratifying enough.

When she was short of manpower at first, she once broadcast live from 10 pm to 8 am the next morning. "Sometimes I found out after the broadcast that my voice was hoarse."

  Relying on centralized cross-border live broadcasting, Wu Xinhe's company has developed hundreds of new customers, and has also negotiated agents in the United States and other places.

"This efficiency is at least twice as fast as before." Wu Xinhe said.

  The Pulse Era is a microcosm of many Chinese foreign trade companies exploring cross-border live broadcasting.

Data released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce at the end of January this year show that according to preliminary statistics, there are currently 645,000 companies nationwide with foreign trade import and export performance, including more than 100,000 cross-border e-commerce entities.

According to data provided by Qichacha, there are 1.4804 million live broadcast-related companies in China, and the number of live broadcast-related company registrations has shown continued positive growth in the past 10 years.

  Nowadays, "cross-border e-commerce" and "live broadcast" have become high-frequency words in the mouths of some foreign trade companies.

At Beckline (Ningbo) Import and Export Co., Ltd., the staff specially equipped a 5G mobile live broadcast truck in order to create a high-quality live broadcast connection showroom. The company's customers from the live broadcast room have nearly doubled every year.

As a traditional machinery factory, Shanghai OPEC Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. has transformed the 3,000-square-meter physical exhibition hall used to receive overseas customers into a live broadcast room. Every salesperson has learned how to live broadcast; dozens of high-definition cameras have also been installed in the factory. With the camera, overseas customers can view the factory and place orders online in real time 24 hours a day, and the overall benefits far exceed the investment.

At Shenzhen Zoetis Technology Co., Ltd., there are not only multiple anchors conducting cross-border live broadcasts in fluent English, but also live broadcast robots that shuttle between factories.

The factory operation scenes captured by the robot are connected to the live broadcast. Overseas customers can simultaneously see the factory operation conditions while communicating with the anchor.

  The rapid development of cross-border live streaming has benefited from the continuous promotion of Chinese e-commerce platforms.

Data provided by Alibaba International Station shows that since 2023, the number of overseas buyers watching cross-border live broadcasts online every day has increased by 127% year-on-year, and the business opportunities brought to foreign trade merchants have increased by 156%.

According to data provided by Pinduoduo, the Temu platform has launched operations in more than 40 countries since its launch in September 2022, covering 5 continents. Many Chinese manufacturers sell goods to the European and American markets through cross-border live broadcasts.

In the list of downloads of overseas "shopping apps", China's fast fashion e-commerce platform Xiyin has been at the forefront all year round. Marketing methods such as online celebrity live broadcasts have become an important way for it to promote and attract traffic on overseas social platforms.

  Benefit from China’s strong supply chain

  China’s cross-border live streaming has strong ability to bring goods, which has attracted the attention of some foreign media.

"Nihon Keizai Shimbun" recently reported that the number of users of Chinese e-commerce platform Temu in Japan exceeded 15 million in January this year.

This e-commerce company has been in Japan for about half a year and has already reached more than 50% of the average of the three leading e-commerce companies in Japan.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the latest data recently released by the South Korean Statistics Department show that in 2023, South Korea’s imports from China’s cross-border e-commerce surged by 121.2% year-on-year.

China surpassed the United States for the first time and became South Korea's largest source of cross-border e-commerce imports.

  At the same time, overseas shopping and social platforms such as Amazon, Walmart, YouTube, Facebook, Photo Wall, etc. have all "tested the waters" of live streaming.

The "Global Cross-border E-commerce Brands Going Global Ecological Report" previously released by the Institute of Financial Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences believes that whether in China or overseas, live broadcasting has become a new trend in current traffic.

Live streaming is a highly interactive shopping experience that restores the offline face-to-face shopping experience. Some cross-border e-commerce brands are keenly targeting this new direction of brand "overseas" marketing.

  Why is China’s live streaming delivery model successful?

The American magazine "MIT Sloan Management Review" published an article analyzing that from a global perspective, the operating models of major e-commerce platforms outside China are relatively single and modular, while Chinese e-commerce platforms will also intersperse live broadcasts with goods. Games use entertainment to enhance potential consumers’ purchasing intentions.

In addition, China's live streaming has spawned a large number of Internet celebrity anchor groups to cooperate with relevant e-commerce platforms, promoting the innovation of e-commerce retail marketing models.

These live broadcast anchors are not only professional hosts who can interact and empathize with the audience in real time, but they are also sales masters who understand the product and can explain the product clearly.

The article believes that as a new model of global e-commerce retail, China’s live streaming delivery model can be recognized, learned and tried by e-commerce platforms and brands in various countries.

  “The popularity of cross-border live streaming in China mainly benefits from China’s strong supply chain, excellent product quality, strong response to market demand, and attractiveness to consumers. These advantages are well demonstrated through cross-border live streaming. "Pan Helin, co-director and researcher of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center of Zhejiang University International Business School, believes that China's domestically developed live broadcast e-commerce industry ecology has also provided a strong talent reserve for cross-border live broadcast e-commerce to "go overseas." The successful experience of domestic live broadcast e-commerce has been well transplanted, making cross-border live broadcast more convenient.

  Continuously enhance the global influence of cross-border live broadcasts

  With the development of technologies such as artificial intelligence and algorithm recommendation, the live streaming model of the foreign trade industry is changing, which may have a profound impact on traditional foreign trade methods.

  "In the past, we relied on anchors to sell goods live day and night, but now we only need one staff member to guard the 'digital man'." Wu Xinhe said.

In December last year, Wu Xinhe's company, Maiwei Times, began to try digital live broadcasts, and things quickly became a little different.

She found that digital live broadcasts can solve the problem of live broadcasters staying up late, not only effectively reducing labor costs, but also increasing the length of live broadcasts.

In terms of learning ability, it is an all-round anchor. Not only can it accurately remember the functions, selling points and prices of multiple products, but it is also proficient in using languages ​​from various countries.

Through training, it can also automatically answer questions based on keywords spoken by users, or play corresponding short videos to answer questions about product processes and functions.

In terms of business value, it can activate old customers, add new inquiries, and improve traffic conversion rate.

  E-commerce platforms have innovated in terms of live streaming models and operating methods, making it easier and more convenient for foreign trade companies to "test the waters" of live streaming to bring goods.

At Alibaba International Station, the platform has launched many new technologies this year, such as using the "Time Compass" to help foreign trade companies find the most suitable time period for broadcasting; adding voice to subtitles and translation functions in the live broadcast room to convert merchants' voices into subtitles in real time.

On the Temu platform, after cross-border merchants with overseas local delivery capabilities choose the semi-managed model, they can not use the warehouse logistics service provider designated by Pinduoduo platform, but can decide on the warehousing and logistics plan more flexibly according to the method that suits them.

  As live broadcasts bring goods overseas, problems such as high logistics costs, cumbersome payment procedures, and cultural differences are also highlighted.

Zhu Keli, executive director of the China Information Association and founding director of the Guoyan New Economic Research Institute, suggested further increasing investment in infrastructure construction, improving customs clearance efficiency, optimizing logistics and information flow channels, reducing corporate operating costs, and providing opportunities for the development of cross-border e-commerce live streaming. Strong support; establish a complete overseas warehouse service system to promote the optimization and development of the entire supply chain; increase school-enterprise cooperation and establish a complete cross-border e-commerce live broadcast talent training system.

  In view of overseas cultural differences, Pan Helin suggested hiring overseas consultants to study overseas user preferences, and anchors to strengthen their study of cultures around the world, find a live broadcast style and model acceptable to overseas users, and continuously enhance the global influence of cross-border live broadcasts.

(People's Daily Overseas Edition)